And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation…” (Revelation 5:9, NIV)
That’s what they’re singing in heaven, to the Lamb, a figure for the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. He has, by His saving death, purchased people from all over the world.
The international nature of real Christianity is one of its most remarkable features. John saw an anticipation of that in heaven; nowadays we have the privilege of seeing Christians from all over the world - including at our church!
It is remarkable that the Christian message can be understood by peoples from different nations. Culture runs very deep, and mind-sets vary from nation to nation. I once met a Swiss missionary in Brazil - can you imagine the different approach to time-keeping he had to adopt! Yet still, Christianity transcends all of this.
It is remarkable that the Christian message brings the same personal experience for peoples from very different nations. On the same trip to Brazil, I met the Principal of a Bible college. He is a native Brazilian, from the rainforest. I wore my chinos and blue shirt and he showed me forest fruits I’d never heard of! Yet we have the same joy in Christ, and find the Spirit of God working in the same direction in our lives.
It is remarkable how the Christian message brings people from different nations together. In Ephesians 2, Paul talks about how God has brought together Jew and Gentile, and it is a remarkable fact of the early church that Jew and Gentile assembled together as one church. Old suspicions and enmities are broken down.
Looking round St Andrew the Great on a Sunday, I remarked to a friend, “we’re like the United Nations”. “No”, came the reply, “We are the real United Nations!” In a political era characterised by nationalism, the churches may have a particularly distinctive witness to a fractured world.
All over the world this Sunday, Christians will meet in local churches. Revelation tells us, this is the achievement of the Lamb Who was slain. One man, dying on a cross, 2,000 years ago. What an achievement!
We continue our series in Revelation on Sunday mornings.